shunpou 皴法
KEY WORD : art history / paintings
Texture or modeling strokes used by artists to depict the surfaces of trees, rocks and ground, which lend a sense of form and substance to the subject. The use of shunpou is thought to have developed from an ink shading *sumiguma 墨暈, technique employed in Tang China and popularized in Northern Song landscape painting. Although each type of shunpou is generally defined, there are slight differences for each artist, and a close examination of these strokes can be used to distinguish one painting school from another and often one individual artist from another. For example, a popular texture stroke employed by Chinese Imperial Academy painters is the axe-cut stroke *fuhekishun 斧劈皴. A landscape painting employing axe-cut strokes and attributed to a member of this school, Li Tang (Jp: Ri Tou 李唐), is preserved in the Koutouin 高桐院 at Daitokuji 大徳寺 in Kyoto. Other types of texture strokes such as the hemp-fiber stroke *himashun 披麻皴 and the alum-head stroke bandoushun 礬頭皴 were popularly employed in Southern Song paintings and were first seen in the work of Dong Yuan (Jp: Tou Gen 董源, Five dynasties-early Northern Song dynasty), the artist who is thought to have originated the bunjin or literary style of painting *bunjinga 文人画. Other types of shunpou commonly employed in this style of painting are raveled-rope strokes kaisakushun 解索皴 and tangled hemp-fiber strokes ranmashun 乱麻皴. Raindrop strokes, utenshun 雨点皴 (also called shimashun 芝麻皴) are thought to have been developed by Wang Wei (Jp: Ou I 王維, other sources say by Fan Kuan 范寛), and brought to fruition in the styles of Dong Yuan, Ju Ran (Jp: Kyo Nen 巨然) and Mi Fu (Jp: Bei Futsu 米ふつ; 1051-1107). Shunpou techniques crossed the ocean from China to Japan in the late Kamakura period and were employed in ink painting throughout the Muromachi period. Because Japanese artists placed less importance on portraying three-dimensionality in their work, the appearance and use of texture strokes was somewhat different from China. However, evidence of various types of shunpou can be found in the paintings of Muromachi period ink painters, as well as in the art of the Kanou, Unkoku, Hasegawa and Kaihou schools (*Kanouha 狩野派, *Unkokuha 雲谷派, *Hasegawaha 長谷川派 and *Kaihouha 海北派) of the Momoyama and early Edo periods. Over 30 different types of texture strokes are explained and illustrated in the Mustard Seed Garden Manual of Painting *KAISHIEN GADEN 芥子園画伝, a woodblock printed book introduced from China to Japan in the Edo period and studied assiduously by *nanga 南画 artists in Japan during the 18-19c.


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